Milksta Blog

How to Avoid Stress During Pregnancy (Ultimate Guide for Mommas)

A woman experiencing stress during pregnancy

Nobody’s new to stressful situations. They surround us every day, and feeling stressed out from time to time is a normal part of being human (and being a mom!).

But even though stress is normal, you should know that extreme or too much exposure to stress could result in some serious and lasting damage. This is especially true for pregnant moms and their unborn babies.  

Understanding Stress During Pregnancy

Every momma’s body is different. A situation that causes one mom to be mildly stressed out could lead another mom to freak out. Meanwhile, someone who’s used to stressful situations might take them lightly during pregnancy and unknowingly risk the proper development of her baby. This is why it’s important to understand stress. And If you’re a mom carrying a precious one in your tummy, this guide will help you understand the signs and effects of stress during pregnancy, plus some tips (from a mom and to a mom) on how to avoid and manage the stresses in your preggy journey.  

So.... is stress really all that bad?

Just like sugar, stress in small doses is fine. Experiencing short bouts of stress could actually work wonders, especially when you need to focus on something urgent or important.  It’s when your stress reaches the extreme or chronic stage that it leads to detrimental problems—problems like hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Problems that may be irreversible. And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, several studies confirm that stressed-out moms could be programming their unborn child for some unpleasant physical and neuropsychiatric outcomes. So while stress isn’t all that bad, it could have dreadful consequences that you’ll surely want to avoid starting right now. [bctt tweet="Studies confirm that #stressed moms could be programming their unborn child for some unpleasant physical & neuropsychiatric outcomes." username="getmilksta"]  

What are some signs of stress during pregnancy?

Pregnant and stressing mom   Pregnancy by itself could be slightly or extremely stressful for women. Just imagine the hormonal ups and drops, the bodily changes, and the adjustments needed to ensure the mom’s and her developing baby’s wellness.  Aside from these, some women also suffer from other distressing circumstances, like financial difficulties, home- and work-related problems, challenging relationships, living in an impoverished or high-crime neighborhood, and dealing with pre-existing health conditions that could affect their pregnancy. As you can see, stressors constantly hover around. So, how can you tell when the stress is too much? Here are some telltale signs:
  • Palpitations
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, or frustration
  • Feelings of apathy

 

How does stress affect pregnant moms and their babies?

Stress is a silent disease. Those are the words of Dr. Calvin Hobel, Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Cedars Sinai, when he explained how important it is for pregnant moms to understand stress and its consequences.  So, exactly how does stress affect pregnancy? Below are some of my findings from recent studies.  

1. Higher risks of preterm delivery

A study reveals that women who went through a major life event during pregnancy (i.e., death of a loved one, a community-wide disaster, homelessness, etc.) have a greater likelihood of experiencing preterm birth (PTB). Meanwhile, the same study says that normal, daily stressors have no significant impact on risks of PTB.  

2. Risks of prenatal depression

As you already know for sure, stress is a strong trigger for depression. And as complicated as depression treatments could be, they’re more complex for pregnant moms who need to be extra careful with medications.  

3. Low birth weight

This is one of the most obvious effects of stress on babies. While the normal birth weight is around 8 pounds, babies whose mothers had extreme stress during pregnancy usually weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces at birth.  A stressed mother releases the hormone cortisol, which then travels to the placenta and triggers the production of more stress hormones. And while the placenta has natural protective mechanisms against stress, too much stress can overwhelm it and expose the fetus to unhealthy cortisol levels, which then affects how well the baby grows. Another hormone released during maternal stress is catecholamine, which is also linked to low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction.  

4. Low mental acuity

A baby’s growth while in the womb has a lot to do with their neurodevelopment later in life. Some studies say that stress from emotional or physical violence during pregnancy could lead to children having poor temperament and overall health. Learning impairments, attention disorders, and mood disorders are also problems that could point back to a child’s condition while it was still a fetus. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of other factors could also cause these issues. [bctt tweet="A baby’s growth while in the womb has a lot to do with their neurodevelopment later in life." username="getmilksta"]  

5. Physical health issues

Asthma in children is said to be associated with their mothers’ anxiety during pregnancy. Also, some studies reveal that stressed-out moms could give birth to babies with metabolism and immunity issues, making them more susceptible to different diseases later in life.  As you can see, extreme stress doesn’t just affect you and your baby during the months that you’re in the same body. The consequences could last a long time, so it’s best to do something about it immediately. RELATED: Anxiety During Pregnancy (What You Should Know & How to Cope)  

But even though stress is normal, you should know that extreme or too much exposure to stress could result in some serious and lasting damage. This is especially true for pregnant moms and their unborn babies.

 

Understanding Stress During Pregnancy

Every momma’s body is different. A situation that causes one mom to be mildly stressed out could lead another mom to freak out. Meanwhile, someone who’s used to stressful situations might take them lightly during pregnancy and unknowingly risk the proper development of her baby.

This is why it’s important to understand stress. And If you’re a mom carrying a precious one in your tummy, this guide will help you understand the signs and effects of stress during pregnancy, plus some tips (from a mom and to a mom) on how to avoid and manage the stresses in your preggy journey.

 

So…. is stress really all that bad?

Just like sugar, stress in small doses is fine. Experiencing short bouts of stress could actually work wonders, especially when you need to focus on something urgent or important. 

It’s when your stress reaches the extreme or chronic stage that it leads to detrimental problems—problems like hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Problems that may be irreversible.

And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, several studies confirm that stressed-out moms could be programming their unborn child for some unpleasant physical and neuropsychiatric outcomes. So while stress isn’t all that bad, it could have dreadful consequences that you’ll surely want to avoid starting right now.

Studies confirm that #stressed moms could be programming their unborn child for some unpleasant physical & neuropsychiatric outcomes. Click To Tweet

 

What are some signs of stress during pregnancy?

Pregnant and stressing mom

 

Pregnancy by itself could be slightly or extremely stressful for women. Just imagine the hormonal ups and drops, the bodily changes, and the adjustments needed to ensure the mom’s and her developing baby’s wellness. 

Aside from these, some women also suffer from other distressing circumstances, like financial difficulties, home- and work-related problems, challenging relationships, living in an impoverished or high-crime neighborhood, and dealing with pre-existing health conditions that could affect their pregnancy.

As you can see, stressors constantly hover around. So, how can you tell when the stress is too much? Here are some telltale signs:

  • Palpitations
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness, or frustration
  • Feelings of apathy

 

How does stress affect pregnant moms and their babies?

Stress is a silent disease. Those are the words of Dr. Calvin Hobel, Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Cedars Sinai, when he explained how important it is for pregnant moms to understand stress and its consequences. 

So, exactly how does stress affect pregnancy? Below are some of my findings from recent studies.

 

1. Higher risks of preterm delivery

A study reveals that women who went through a major life event during pregnancy (i.e., death of a loved one, a community-wide disaster, homelessness, etc.) have a greater likelihood of experiencing preterm birth (PTB). Meanwhile, the same study says that normal, daily stressors have no significant impact on risks of PTB.

 

2. Risks of prenatal depression

As you already know for sure, stress is a strong trigger for depression. And as complicated as depression treatments could be, they’re more complex for pregnant moms who need to be extra careful with medications.

 

3. Low birth weight

This is one of the most obvious effects of stress on babies. While the normal birth weight is around 8 pounds, babies whose mothers had extreme stress during pregnancy usually weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces at birth. 

A stressed mother releases the hormone cortisol, which then travels to the placenta and triggers the production of more stress hormones. And while the placenta has natural protective mechanisms against stress, too much stress can overwhelm it and expose the fetus to unhealthy cortisol levels, which then affects how well the baby grows.

Another hormone released during maternal stress is catecholamine, which is also linked to low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction.

 

4. Low mental acuity

A baby’s growth while in the womb has a lot to do with their neurodevelopment later in life. Some studies say that stress from emotional or physical violence during pregnancy could lead to children having poor temperament and overall health.

Learning impairments, attention disorders, and mood disorders are also problems that could point back to a child’s condition while it was still a fetus. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of other factors could also cause these issues.

A baby’s growth while in the womb has a lot to do with their neurodevelopment later in life. Click To Tweet

 

5. Physical health issues

Asthma in children is said to be associated with their mothers’ anxiety during pregnancy. Also, some studies reveal that stressed-out moms could give birth to babies with metabolism and immunity issues, making them more susceptible to different diseases later in life. 

As you can see, extreme stress doesn’t just affect you and your baby during the months that you’re in the same body. The consequences could last a long time, so it’s best to do something about it immediately.

RELATED: Anxiety During Pregnancy (What You Should Know & How to Cope)

 

Pregnant and Stressing? Here’s How to Momma-Manage

A mother avoiding stress during pregnancy through meditation   Pregnant and stressing out isn’t what you want during such a momentous period in your life. What can you do as an expectant mother to try and find ways to keep calm? Here are a few tips:   

1. Get more zzzz time

Sleep is a great way to destress. Not getting enough sleep can raise stress levels, so it’s important to aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Trying to get a good night’s rest, however, can become challenging as your pregnancy progresses.  One thing you can do to ensure that you do get the right amount of sleep needed to avoid stress is to have a ritual that calms you down before bedtime. Some ideas include a warm bath; a calming, caffeine-free warm beverage; and some soothing music before you hit the pillow. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of exciting movies and opt for a nice book an hour or so before bedtime.   

Mom- and baby-safe coffee? 

BIG YES! Plus, it’s guilt- and jitters-free!

Check It Out Now

 

2. Exercise and activate some happy hormones

You probably know by now that exercising and moving your body releases the “happy hormone” called endorphins. When this happens, you find your mood improving as well as negative feelings and thoughts disappearing. Since not all pregnancies are alike, you should choose the exercise and activity that’s ideal for your situation. Some expectant moms do what is called pregnancy yoga, which is intended to promote physical and mental well-being through stretching and meditation. This is used to not only activate your happy hormones but also to calm your mind with relaxation and soothing thoughts. If you’re new to yoga, find a pregnancy yoga class that can help ease you into it so you don’t overtax yourself the first few sessions. You could also explore other activities, depending on your physique and the options available in your location.  

3. Be mindful of your stress triggers

Each person has a trigger that gets the body into the “fight or flight” mode that stress brings about. If you know what these triggers are, you can find ways to try and avoid them. One way to effectively avoid or even diffuse such triggers is to listen to music that you love. Another way is to meditate. [bctt tweet="Each person has a trigger that gets the body into the “fight or flight” mode that stress brings about. If you know what these triggers are, you can find ways to try and avoid them." username="getmilksta"]   Being mindful will help you notice when your thoughts go into that forbidden, stressful zone. When you realize that you’re going there, it helps to have a mantra that you can chant to calm down or to steer you away from stressful thoughts. Take deep breaths, visualize a calming scene, and try to stop your mind from racing. Note that different things will work for different moms, so do take some time to think about what works well for you.   Avoiding stress while pregnant can be a challenge since you are going through a lotphysically, mentally, and emotionally. Stress every now and then is normal, though, so there’s no need to be alarmed when you find yourself worrying over one small thing or another. And if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and lost in toomuchery, you can back to this guide and reach out to your friends, family, and even your doctor for help.   _________________________________ This mom-powering piece is curated by multiple contributors: Lian Delos Reyes, founder & CEO of Milksta, and research & content specialists Rowena Taylor-Rivero and Rose Jane dela Cruz.

Pregnant and Stressing? Here’s How to Momma-Manage

A mother avoiding stress during pregnancy through meditation

 

Pregnant and stressing out isn’t what you want during such a momentous period in your life. What can you do as an expectant mother to try and find ways to keep calm? Here are a few tips: 

 

1. Get more zzzz time

Sleep is a great way to destress. Not getting enough sleep can raise stress levels, so it’s important to aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Trying to get a good night’s rest, however, can become challenging as your pregnancy progresses. 

One thing you can do to ensure that you do get the right amount of sleep needed to avoid stress is to have a ritual that calms you down before bedtime.

Some ideas include a warm bath; a calming, caffeine-free warm beverage; and some soothing music before you hit the pillow. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of exciting movies and opt for a nice book an hour or so before bedtime. 

 

Mom- and baby-safe coffee? 

BIG YES! Plus, it’s guilt- and jitters-free!

Check It Out Now

 

2. Exercise and activate some happy hormones

You probably know by now that exercising and moving your body releases the “happy hormone” called endorphins. When this happens, you find your mood improving as well as negative feelings and thoughts disappearing.

Since not all pregnancies are alike, you should choose the exercise and activity that’s ideal for your situation.

Some expectant moms do what is called pregnancy yoga, which is intended to promote physical and mental well-being through stretching and meditation. This is used to not only activate your happy hormones but also to calm your mind with relaxation and soothing thoughts.

If you’re new to yoga, find a pregnancy yoga class that can help ease you into it so you don’t overtax yourself the first few sessions. You could also explore other activities, depending on your physique and the options available in your location.

 

3. Be mindful of your stress triggers

Each person has a trigger that gets the body into the “fight or flight” mode that stress brings about. If you know what these triggers are, you can find ways to try and avoid them.

One way to effectively avoid or even diffuse such triggers is to listen to music that you love. Another way is to meditate.

Each person has a trigger that gets the body into the “fight or flight” mode that stress brings about. If you know what these triggers are, you can find ways to try and avoid them. Click To Tweet

 

Being mindful will help you notice when your thoughts go into that forbidden, stressful zone. When you realize that you’re going there, it helps to have a mantra that you can chant to calm down or to steer you away from stressful thoughts.

Take deep breaths, visualize a calming scene, and try to stop your mind from racing.

Note that different things will work for different moms, so do take some time to think about what works well for you.

 

Avoiding stress while pregnant can be a challenge since you are going through a lotphysically, mentally, and emotionally.

Stress every now and then is normal, though, so there’s no need to be alarmed when you find yourself worrying over one small thing or another. And if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and lost in toomuchery, you can back to this guide and reach out to your friends, family, and even your doctor for help.

 

_________________________________

This mom-powering piece is curated by multiple contributors: Lian Delos Reyes, founder & CEO of Milksta, and research & content specialists Rowena Taylor-Rivero and Rose Jane dela Cruz.

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